In case you missed it, David Byrne (genius in his own right and mastermind behind the Talking Heads) and St. Vincent (the stage name of the uber-talented Annie Clark ) made a record together entitled Love This Giant. In keeping with Byrne’s post-Heads aesthetic of musical eclecticism, drawing from non-Western and non-rock conventions (e.g., use of big band horns and full orchestration), Love this Giant is a technically impressive and aurally gorgeous collection of songs by two brilliantly talented and amazing musicians. I’ll admit that as a whole it hasn’t fully resonated on the level of overwhelming me, but I think it will grow over time because its intricacy doesn’t betray instant gratification. However, one track in particular sung by Annie Clark simply floored me from the outset and still plays daily on my stereo.
“Optimist” starts soft and simple with just Annie’s vocals, like a morning after a steady stream of rain on city streets, with the sun emerging with its rays catching the corner of a puddle and splashing you in the eye. As the song takes you along with the narrator on her journey around the City, spotting Vivian Girls on the Upper East Side, horns and strings join the mix giving the song an almost Gershwin-like “Rhapsody in Blue” feel, a glimmer of an older America when people lazily walked observing their surroundings. The overwhelming feeling of possibility and genuine joy in the moment permeates every note and supports its title’s professed subject (matter). And, most importantly it brings me joy and inspires me to do and to do more.
What struck me as I was thinking about the song the other day was that it wasn’t the only song in the past year that had this effect on me. So what follows is a collection of songs filled with “optimism”, a sense of overcoming burdens and challenges, or a general “life affirming” sense and sensibility. Hopefully this helps perk up your morning, day, or general state as each song has done for me and/or feel free to share with a friend who might be in need of another perspective.
Click →The Future is Bright: A Playlist of Possibility to listen on Spotify (I will allow others to add their own song to the playlist).
Also, if you’d like to hear all of David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Love This Giant just click to your left.
Tracks featured on the playlist are as follows:
- “Optimist” by David Byrne & St. Vincent – see above
- “Manchester” by Kishi Bashi – listen for the crescendo at the end of the song with the line “I haven’t felt this alive in a long time”
- “Fortune Teller” by Calexico – “I’m on the way to finer things”
- “Don’t Leave Me” by Regina Spektor – Regina sounds like she is having so much fun singing this song and the youthful devil may care sensibility of her intonation of “I love Paris in the rain” conjures image of children dancing in puddles of steady summer rain
- “Venus” by Anais Mitchell – Ideal(ized) love
- “Mountain Sound” by Of Monsters and Men – the mirth and enthusiasm in their voices always gets me up
- “Still Young” by Allo Darlin’ – when I think I’m too tired to venture out, I just plug this song in
- “Dreams” by Taken by Trees – gorgeous daydream of possibility and shifting or reframing direction(s)
- “Soma Kijana” by Sauti Sol – I want to get up and dance to this song
- “Simple Song” by the Shins – Recurring line that speaks volumes: “I know that things can really get rough, when you go it alone, you’re thinking you’ve got to be tough and play like a stone”; it’s the song for that friend in our life who tries to be so independent and resilient that they bear the weight of the world on their shoulder, sometimes you just have to remind them to share the load.
- “The House That Heaven Built” by Japandroids – “If they try to slow you down, tell them all to go to hell”… in other words, to thine own self be true.
- “I Belong in Your Arms” by Chairlift – the self confidence of desire without the sense of pining in vain
- “Orpheo Looks Back” by Andrew Bird – a rural rustic folk medley for cavorting in the woods and to be played with autumnal fires
- “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – I love it when artists can both advocate for change and craft a song whose music wraps you in a blanket of warmth
- “Walking Home” by We Are Serenades
- “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy” by Passion Pit – Perhaps I’m reading too much into this song but it has been the track that has really moved me the most to tears of joy on Gossamer because it sounds like the songwriter accepting and overcoming the challenges of his life and telling others not to pity or judge him: “I’m just working with what I’ve been given, It’s not my fault, I’m happy, Don’t call me crazy, I’m happy”.
- “We OK” by The Very Best – At the end of day, no matter how challenging or difficult things might be this song really helps to put things into perspective.
- On the Road with David Byrne & St. Vincent (part 1) (brooklynvegan.com)
- Fall 2012 New Music Playlist (Mixed Media) (popmatters.com)